• Volume 19 Number 8 - August 2012

    Features

    North Carolina sportsmen have many choices when it comes to deer hunting. Here are some of the state’s hottest whitetail hotspots.

    It became gin clear after the 2012 Dixie Deer Classic and the release of harvest figures from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for the last hunting season that North Carolina’s deer herd is in good shape.

    It’s also fairly obvious that Wilkes County in the state’s northwestern corner has the state’s most-avid hunters and one of its healthiest deer populations, while three counties in the northeastern corner of the state are once again home to the most whitetails in North Carolina.

    What does 2012 season hold? Biologists believe herd has stabilized, with weather being the biggest factor in hunter success.

    Hunters in South Carolina harvested more deer in 2011 than in 2010, the first increase after two consecutive years of declines.

    South Carolina Department of Natural Resources deer and turkey project supervisor Charles Ruth said the numbers are encouraging, representative of a stable deer population.

    Morehead City fishermen have plenty of great black sea bass ‘turf’ within a short ride of port.

    The forecast for a windy day was not the greatest for an offshore bottom-fishing trip, but that didn’t deter Bob Bruggeworth from driving to Beaufort to join his friend Gus Villanova at Town Creek Marina, where Villanova keeps his 25-foot Carolina Classic, His Mistress.

    “My freezer’s empty,” said Bruggeworth, a New Bern resident and retiree from the telecommunications industry. “When it comes to eating, nothing beats a black sea bass.”

    Bruggewrorth and Villanova, who is also from New Bern, enjoy fishing inshore waters and the open Atlantic. With the preliminaries taken care of, they headed out through Beaufort Inlet for the first day the black sea bass season was open in 2011, wanting to get a jump on other anglers and commercial fishermen.

    Lumber and Little Pee Dee rivers are prime avenues for fishermen looking to tangle with spunky sunfish.

    Drifting slowly through Marion County along the oil-black vein known as the Lumber River, swollen cypress trees line its banks draped with gray beards of Spanish moss.

    The small boat slips silently along, barely making a ripple in the current that is scarcely noticeable except for the passing of trees and the many switchbacks and curves along this river’s course.

    Nichols’ Donald Ray Turner, who caught the reigning state-record redbreast sunfish, is at the helm of the boat. He is known in these parts as the go-to guy when it comes to catching stringers of redbreast on the Lumber and Little Pee Dee rivers.

    Jetties at Little River are magnets for bull redfish making their way back inshore to spawn. Here’s how to intercept them.

    At the tail end of summer, good things come to those who wait. As soon as the annual mullet run begins, the jetties on either side of Little River along the state line become a site of carnage.

    Massive schools of burly redfish barge into the areas, filling their bellies with tasty mullet. Anglers from both Carolina converge on the end of both sets of gargantuan boulders to lock into one of these drag destroyers, which have no intentions of being horsed to the surface.

    Finding cooler water can lead to some hot August striper fishing on these North Carolina lakes.

    Across the country, striped bass are known for their propensity for cold water, their ability to survive — even flourish — in water that would put most fish into shock. Most fishermen who target stripers in reservoirs consider winter to be the best time to fish, when packs of hungry stripers roam the shallows gorging on shad.

    Guide and striper expert Mike Lundy knew all that when he launched his boat into lake Norman, with the temperature at sunrise a balmy 81 degrees.

    The heat of the summer is no time to sit at home: Head to the wrecks and reefs off Carolina Beach for hot action on big drum.

    To many coastal fishermen, August is a month where the fishing goes slack and the kids go back to school. The heat rolls in early in the day, afternoon thunderstorms are the norm, the Gulf Stream fishing of the late spring is a memory and the kings have yet to invade the beaches for their annual fall blitz.

    Too many fishermen put the tackle away for the last month of the summer. They have no idea what they are missing.

    Improvements in equipment has helped put fly-fishing on the map for saltwater fishermen, especially those targeting North Carolina waters. Learn the basics here.

    Flyfishermen have long known that their gear is not limited to wimpy rods and small fish. Particularly over the past 20 years, as equipment has improved, fly-fishing has created opportunities to catch saltwater fish efficiently.

    The sounds, marshes, inlets and rivers are especially adaptable to fly fishing. With the wisdom of three of the Tarheel State’s best guides — George Beckwith, Joe Shute and Gary Dubiel — here’s how.

    Beckwith, owner of Down East Guide Service, said the summer probably offers the most opportunities for fly-fishermen.

    This foothills reservoir is home to plenty of stripers that will bite even in August. Here are the hows and wheres.

    Almost a hundred years ago, Duke Power began its project to electrify North Carolina’s foothills by building a series of dams along the length of the Catawba River.

    Lake Hickory wasn’t the biggest impoundment on the system, and it wasn’t the first one finished. Fairly narrow, it stretches eastward from the northern outskirts of its namesake city roughly 15 miles to Oxford Dam.

    A pronounced thermocline sets up great summer fishing for a variety of species on this popular lake.

    Fishing may slow on some lakes because of the intense August heat, but that’s not the case at Lake Wateree. It may be tough on the fisherman to stay through the mid-day heat, but largemouth bass, catfish, striper, crappie and bream are all biting.

    Guide Chris Heinning said the lake is very fertile and, because a well-defined thermocline sets up in the lower half of the lake, the oxygen content actually restricts the depths in which you’ll find fish.

    “The thermocline usually sets up in the 16-foot depth range, give or take a foot or two, based on weather and water conditions,” Heinning said. “This puts several species of fish at very fishable depths. Another thing fishermen will notice is that this lake is absolutely loaded with forage, something they will see on their graphs as they motor around the lake.

    Take to the Beaufort’s Hilton Head area, and be ready for a fight — once you learn where to find them.

    Good news and bad news – that’s August redfishing. Yes, the spot-tails are active, growing bigger and stronger, and they will strike well-presented baits and lures. It’s the month some of the largest redfish are caught inshore, before sexual maturity drives them into the ocean to spawn, never to return to our Lowcountry shallows.

    But it’s hot, and afternoon pop-up thunder storms sometimes get in the way, so the preferable early day outings don’t always coincide with your favorite fishing tide.

    Learning to catch fish on any tide means greater success, but different stages of the tides require different approaches.

    Want to extend your bowhunting opportunities and combine them with fishing? Then bowfishing, which has found a big following in the Palmetto State, may be for you.

    For any casual archer who has ever considered giving bowfishing a try, you are encouraged to participate at your own risk.

    Upon release of that first arrow — cowering over the front rail of the boat with bugs in your teeth, gas fumes in your nostrils, and the roar the generator ringing in your ears — odds are you’ll miss the fish but stick the arrow deep into your own heart.

    That’s exactly what happened to Jay Iadonisi, a diehard bowhunter from St. Matthews, on his first bowfishing expedition many years ago.

    The shaky head has made its mark on bass fishermen at High Rock and other Yadkin River reservoirs.

    In the 1970s, KC and the Sunshine Band had party-goers shaking their hindquarters to the infectious beat of “Shake your Booty” and its famous line, “Shake, shake, shake; shake, shake, shake; shake your booty.”

    Bass fishermen aren’t accustomed to shaking their booties out on the lake, but they have learned to rhythmically “shake, shake, shake” their jigs as they embrace the latest jig-fishing craze, shaky head fishing.